18Nov/13Off

Leonardo Da Vinci appeared to suffer from ADHD – how much more could he have achieved in his lifetime?

Leonardo Da Vinci appears to display all the traits of having had ADHD. For me having this condition is an effect of so much happening below the surface and Da Vinci demonstrates this better for me than many of the modern people who are rolled out as examples to others. 

It is long thought that Da Vinci was dyslexic, especially with the examples of his mirrored writing. His note books have proven a challenging task in fact for any historian trying to document his work - in one sense he seems highly visual and creative - there is no other inventor that left as much of a paper trail behind but on the other hand they prove very difficult to read because of there presentation. Something many a teacher will sympathize with correcting a dyslexics paper!

But what I feel is much more interesting is the diversity of Leonardo Da Vinci's interests. I have long seen and proven the correlation between what I call multiplicity and ADHD. Multiplicity is the ability to take in information in a multiple of ways - Visual, Practical, Auditory and Kinesthetic - no wonder people with ADHD seem to have overload - jump around and get distracted easily. Da Vinci was very obviously Visual, Practical and Auditory - the Kinesthetic is hard to see as you need to know more about someone on an emotional level. He was drawn to representing characters and dwelled on the faces of the characters in his paintings - his portraits were very emotional which gives us a clue that he was kinesthetic. Mona Lisa's smile has captured the hearts of so many millions of people over the decades and even spent time in Napoleon's bedroom!

But the above would explain why he jumped around for project to project - did have prolonged periods of concentration and focus on topics he was interested in - can be described as a painter, sculptert, engineer, strategist, philosopher, writer, inventor and on and on... Many of my ADHD students show such diverse talents and interests. In fact I'm working with one 15 year old at present that I see as a Da Vinci type!

The Flip side of this of course is that Da Vinci became distraced easily - jumped from project to project. Didn't complete many commissions - created a great bigger picture but didn't focus on the details, like for example the long term lasting effects of the painting durability of the new technique he developed to paint the Sistine Chapel so he could paint slower and obsess over the faces for certain characters in the painting.

Leonardo Da Vinci only completed 25 paintings in his lifetime as a result of the random nature of his life. Many of his ideas where not built or created until hundreds of years after his death - such as his bridges or his famous bronze horse. Some of this can be put down to being far ahead of his time but in other cases I see great similarities between the students and adult clients we work with in Confidence Club and The Forever Method. Many of our clients seem to have the same "self-destruct button" that prevented Da Vinci from developing more of his ideas into reality. I meet many students who either focus too much on small details of interests or jump randomly to the next fad or interest. Their work will often be presented in as erratic a nature as the hundreds of notebooks Da Vinci left behind - interestingly he always wanted his notebooks to be published. We so enjoy taking people with these extreme levels of information overload and creativity to their true potential. Da Vinci is someone I would have loved to have had the opportunity to have worked with!

 

Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly   Expression Developist™

18Nov/13Off

Using Audio Books to enhance focus, comprehension skills and vocabulary for dyslexic spectrum students

I got my first cassette player at the age of 7 - I still can clearly remember all of the books I listened to over and over. I started using my first cassette recorder at the age of 12 in secondary school to record all my lessons so I could listen back to them - I upgraded to a MP3 player/recorder by college!

Now as a dyslexic adult I insist on reading daily to keep up my skills and I'm secretly chuffed at having read 27 books this year! 

However I still listen to audio books for series that I feel are beyond my reading and I feel that I would miss out on... 

I prescribe audio books for younger students like a medical doctor. For younger students who are book-phobic it gets them into reading and liking books - they don't realize what the are missing out on! It also helps with focus and relaxing the brian. I will talk about this more in my future sleep patterns article. The biggest thing I learned at 7 was that I could memorize the story by listening - it thought me the auditory compensation skills that I still rely so heavily on - in college my fellow students were fascinated that I could remember word for word the lectures despite no notes as I wasn't able to ever take dictation. I would later correct all my class mates notes as I used them for my degree as I have had the time to take the lecture in and understand it rather than worrying about writing. So audio books teach us how to focus while just listening. 

Many dyselxic spectrum students struggle with comprehension. Again with audio books we can learn to focus on the context of writing and reading. We learn what to expect from lanuage and where it goes best together. This later helps us while we are reading - it's like we go into auto pilot working out the text from the context without even realizing what we are doing! 

Lastly a great benefit of audio books is learning words! Like many dyslexics I simply didn't have the words to say or write at an early age as I wasn't learning them from books. We all know the students who talk better because they read or are read to or they spend more time in adult conversations - they always stand out as being more "educated" to us.  Dyslexics quite often are seen as poor at communication as they speak a lot in "things" and "stuff" and other small bity words to fill the gaps of what they are trying to say. Audio books can help to fill these gaps very quickly!

As dyslexics all have huge imaginations I always recomend books that open up new worlds - or even better are like the world you live in only differently. This is why Harry Potter has got more dyslexics to read than any other series ever. 

You can download the Harry Potter Audio Books directly from http://www.pottermore.com/

The next series I love is the Dark materials or Northern Lights series as I see them by Phillp Pullman. These can be found on iTunes, Audible and the BBC http://www.bbcshop.com/audiobook-boxsets/phillip-pullman-his-dark-materials-trilogy/invt/9780563529286

For every young student I recommend Dr. Seuss - He is amazing. The app store for the iPhone and iPad has some amazing interactive audio book apps - The Star-Belly Sneetches is still my favorite.

For older students I recommend the Twilight sage, any of the Agatha Christie books or plays, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Dick Francis & Felix Francis, Donna Leon books, Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Boys will probably enjoy Frederick Forsyth or John Le Carre which may be too difficult to read. For both when older any books by Dan Brown or The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith can be good debating books on larger world issues.

Happy listening,

Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly    Expression Developist™

   

Point of Blog

Our motto is that "we don't do normal". Everyone who comes to The Homework Club is different and is here for a different reason. It's not important if they are dyslexic, have reduced hearing or simply don't "get-it". This Blog is about creative teaching that suits everyone, all of the time! No one needs to be "special". The work is done in groups, so students avoid stigma and don't feel only they need help!

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